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Monday, July 17, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries – 9

You rock, mom!

Of us all, my mother was probably the worst hit by the gloomy winters of Vancouver. Sitting alone at home all day long is an extremely boring and painful thing! I never realized how much until now. If, for one day, I don’t go to work and I am left alone at home, I feel like I’d go stark, raving mad! So here’s hats off to my mom for enduring those long, boring, lonely winters!

The Internet was coming of age during that time and she delved right into it. She used to browse Vikatan, Kumudham, Hindu etc… online. There was also an online Tamizh radio program weekly by Suresh Chakravarthy and Subasree Thanigachalam. We used to avidly gather around the computer every Thursday to listen to a few Tamizh songs! That’s how Tamizh-starved we were.

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A friend in need…

There are no constant friends or constant enemies. And one who doesn’t realize it is a loser. I learnt that one fine, wintry evening at Burnaby North. I was walking from the North building to the South around late afternoon. I’d stayed back for some extra work and it was pretty dark outside. There’s a walkway from the North building to the South and then there’s the shortcut. The shortcut cut across the lawn and a parking lot and led to a door at the back of the South building. Usually, everyone took the shortcut. Near the parking lot, there was a shady area that was notorious for drug users.

I had noticed some weird looking characters around there quite a few times but I just ignored it and walked on. Well, today was a bit different. I was alone in the parking lot and as I was crossing it, a gang of 4 or 5 people emerged from the shades and started walking toward me. I broke into a sprint. But they caught up to me before I could get to the door. I swallowed once and held my breath.

"Hey, you want to try getting high?"

"NO." I wonder where I mustered the strength to reply boldly.

"It doesn't hurt, you know..just one pinch of the needle and you're done."

"No, thank you. I have to be somewhere."

"Where to?" one of them snickered.

The most convincing excuse I could think of at that time was that I was going to meet my boyfriend. It meant that there was someone waiting for me and expecting me. If I didn't turn up, they'd come here and get me. So I blurted out my best excuse.

Silence. Then a snicker.

"Where is he? You're lying, aren't you, girlie? You don't want to hang out with us?"

I was truly in trouble now. I was maintaining a circle around me because I was afraid one of them would jab me with some needle if I wasn't alert enough. Even in that cold, a sweat broke out on my forehead. The thought of myself being a drug addict for the rest of my life was too scary. Just when I thought I was a goner, I heard a voice say:

"Let her go. She's my girl."

Oh, God! Is that who I think it is? Doesn't that voice sound familiar? Maybe I am just getting desperate now. Is this true? If so, please let me hear the voice again.

"
Hey guys, you heard me. She's with me."

I turned slowly and saw The Godfather himself standing there. The druggy gang backed off and slinked away murmuring.

We went into the south building. I was shivering uncontrollably.

"Are you okay?" he asked with concern.

"I will be in a few minutes...Thanks!"

He shrugged and said,

"Aw, that's fine. You're lucky I was going home late today. I got detention in Math class."

A lopsided grin swathed his face. I smiled and said,

"Been smashing pies on people's faces in Math class?"

"Wish I could!"

We both laughed aloud.

"Don't ever walk that way alone in the evenings. Take the main walkway."

"Ok."

And we both went our ways! Like I said, you never know who is an enemy and who is a friend.

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I discover a passion

I had always enjoyed reading. From Greek mythology to Egyptian lore to History of Civilization to Agatha Christie to anything-you-name, I voraciously devoured anything that came my way. But, in a way, I was limited in my reading repertoire. English Lit class changed all that. I was introduced to alternate genres, off beat writing, short stories, poems etc...Some books I had as schoolwork during that time are memorable: "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque, "The Kitchen God's Wife" - Amy Tan, "A Handmaid's Tale" - Margaret Atwood, "The Color Purple" - Alice Walker.

More than the story/content of each book, I learnt to appreciate writing on a different level. My teachers taught me to look for style, tone, use of words, allusions and how each of them contributed to the storyline. It was writing broken down into little component pieces. Reading books was no more for content alone. Poems were fun too. I learnt about rhythm patterns (Iambic Pentameter etc...), Shakespearean sonnets, Petrarchian sonnets, satire, the meta-physical poets etc...

Homeworks were interesting because they were so different. We had to sometimes review books, review poems, write a sonnet of our own in Shakespearean style, act out a play, do readings etc... English and Literature were heaven for me! As a consequence of all those little homeworks, I discovered writing as a passion. I had never considered putting thoughts down on a piece of paper before. But now I knew the basics - how to write, how to phrase, where to put what etc...Oh, its so hard to explain! But once you know the structure of an essay, its so easy to organize your thoughts accordingly.

We had a small noticeboard outside our classes where teachers would put up their students' best work. I was proud when Mrs. B put up my review of "The Mayor of Casterbridge" on the noticeboard..:) Two months down the line, I had my first article in a newspaper!

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The Diary will flip its next page soon…

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My teachers taught me to look for style, tone, use of words, allusions and how each of them contributed to the storyline.

Western edu style rocks !, I bet most of us didnt have the privilege to be taught like that. We were taught to learn and reproduce "by-heart". The only creativity we had was creating techniques for memorizing. Does Desi education suck? or is it us?

Anon - I

dinesh said...

Ah nice...so God-father oda appove oru romance a nadathitte nu sollu ! :). But nice little story that. Avlo dhaana God-father kadhai ille innum thodarum a ?

And for the writing, your wide repertoire of reading finds its way to your writing and (some of)our limited repertoire in reading, shows, doesn't it ?

Anon-I, you're right, I think the desi school system sucks too, for the most part.

Kay said...

i cant wait for ur dairy pages to flip open.. y can't i read ur book and know the rest of the story ????

Anonymous said...

Hmm. i dont know about yr mom. But u definitely rock in this series..

Nirandhara nanbanum illai edhiriyum illai concept politcs ku dhaan adhigam solvaanga.. oru vidhathile partha Lifey arasiyal dhaan.. illai??

This comment also proves conclusively that torpark definitely works :)

Prabu Karthik said...

Oops that anon was me :)